“And then I will play and it will feel like I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.
“Performing is such a huge part of my life, and I have been playing in public since I was 11 or 12, and I have never really paused.
“When I get on that stage, I usually talk a lot. But I will just want to play and play and play. I just want to make notes on my wooden box!”
The event, on Saturday, September 5, will be a special, open-air concert to celebrate the late summer. It will be in the safest possible environment, Richard promises – a huge field underneath the South Downs near the village of Albourne. Richard will play an extended, wide-ranging solo set of music on his beloved concert guitar made from a 5,000-year-old English oak. He’ll also perform on tenor guitar and ukulele.
Richard knows there is going to be caution on the part of returning audiences; he felt exactly the same when he attended an open-air Shakespeare in Hove recently: “I felt nervous. I am very cautious about this disease, but the show was actually very relaxed and uplifting.
“I really thought twice about going, but I was made to feel really safe, and they had all the social-distancing measures that we are going to be having. I want my audience to be able to feel really safe too and to soak up the good vibes, and when they do, the audience creates a really beautiful feeling. And I have got so much that I want to play!”
And as we start to get used to the way things will have to be, Richard believes we will start to look back on lockdown as being an incredible, intense moment in our history.
“I am used to playing 60 gigs a year. It wiped out my income. I have that in common with all the venues, and I suspect there will be some venues that won’t survive. It has been tough. But it has been OK artistically. I missed playing, but I write and I record, and I am fortunate that I have got my recording studio. And I have never worked so hard in my life. I am quite driven anyway. I am quite obsessive about my work. I always take a lot of care, and in the recording studio you can really put what you do under the microscope. The gigs disappeared, but I love the creative process, and there isn’t much else to do – just to really focus on the studio.”
Richard was due to be bringing his new album out at the start of June, but the tour was cancelled. Instead, he really focused on the album which will come out now in October: “The album was rewritten and rearranged. Every semi-quaver on the album was recorded during lockdown. I would not describe it as a lockdown album, but it has a real focus on ecological is-sues. I thought a lot about the state of things, and I think in time we will look back on lockdown as a really magical and unforgettable time. It is the most time I have ever spent with my family. I am lucky to have a family, I know, and none them got ill. We were fortunate. But I just felt that lockdown was a time that shouldn’t be wasted. I knew it was as strange as hell. And so I just worked and worked and worked. I learnt to live-stream. I worked continuously on the recording. And I didn’t really think about the money, the gigs I was missing. I was totally wiped out. I completely fell between the cracks, but somehow it didn’t matter. It was the intensity, the feeling humanity was going through something it had never been through before.”
Gates open at 2pm with the support act The Kites (singer-songwriting trio) at 3pm. All social distancing regulations apply. Tickets: £50 family; £20 full price; £12 students, under 18s and disabled; Free under 12s, £5 gazebo pitch: [email protected] Venue: North Park Farm, Church Lane, Albourne, BN6 9BY.
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